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Atypical Depression

Written by sshowalter.

Atypical Depression is a subset of both major and minor depression. Atypical depression is categorized by being able to express positive moods in response to enjoyable activities as well as symptoms such as over-eating and over-sleeping.

The DSM-IV defines Atypical Depression lists the following characterizations of atypical depression:

a) Mood reactivity meaning mood can be lifted with positive events

b) At least two of the following:

  • Significant weight gain or increases appetite;
  • Hypersomnia or sleeping too much, as opposed to the insomnia present in other forms of depression;
  • Leaden paralysis (i.e., heavy, leaden feelings in arms or legs);
  • Sensitivity to interpersonal rejection sensitivity that results in significant social or occupational impairment.

c) Criteria are not met for Melancholic Depression or Catatonic Depression during the same episode.

It seems MAOIs are superior to tricyclics in treating atypical depression and that not many studies have been done on the effictiveness of SSRIs in its treatment.1

  1. Nierenberg AA, Alpert JE, Pava J, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M.* Course and treatment of atypical depression * J Clin Psychiatry 1998; 59 Suppl 18:5-9. Retrieved on September 7, 2010 from

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